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Commonwealth v. Ubeira-Gonzalez

Appeals Court of Massachusetts, Hampden

January 22, 2015

Commonwealth
v.
Francisco L. Ubeira - Gonzalez

Argued: October 2, 2014.

Complaints received and sworn to in the Holyoke Division of the District Court Department on October 19 and November 4, 2009.

Motions for a new trial, filed on March 27, 2013, were heard by Philip A. Beattie, J.

Orders granting motions for new trial reversed.

Jane Davidson Montori, Assistant District Attorney, for the Commonwealth.

Daniel J. Ciccariello for the defendant.

Present: Grasso, Kantrowitz, & Meade, JJ.

OPINION

[23 N.E.3d 129] Meade, J.

In 2010, the defendant pleaded guilty to several crimes, including possession of a class A controlled substance with the intent to distribute.[1] In 2012, the defendant was charged in Federal court with distribution of a controlled substance. Following his arraignment in Federal court, the defendant moved

Page 38

to withdraw his 2010 guilty pleas to his State convictions. The defendant's motions were based on alleged misconduct by an assistant analyst at the State laboratory in Amherst (Amherst laboratory). Without conducting an evidentiary hearing or making findings, the motion judge (who was also the plea judge) allowed the defendant's motions. The Commonwealth appeals and claims the judge erred by allowing the motions. We agree and reverse.

1. Background.

a. Procedural history.

In October of 2009, the defendant was charged with possession of a class A controlled substance (October case). Less than one month later, in November of 2009, the defendant was again charged with possession of a class A controlled substance, possession with intent to distribute a class A controlled substance, resisting arrest, and assault and battery on a police officer (November case). In February of 2010, the defendant pleaded guilty to the above charges, except for the possession of a class A controlled substance charge in the November case, which the Commonwealth dismissed.

In May of 2012, the defendant was charged in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts with distribution of a controlled substance. [23 N.E.3d 130] In March of 2013, the defendant moved to withdraw his guilty pleas in the October and November cases. In his affidavits in support of the motions, the defendant claimed that his guilty pleas were not made intelligently and voluntarily because he and his attorney were not aware of the alleged misconduct of Sonja Farak, an assistant analyst at the Amherst laboratory who analyzed the narcotics in the October case. The defendant also claimed that he was not shown the certificate of drug analysis (drug certificate) in either case. However, at the time of his guilty pleas, a drug analysis had yet to be performed on the narcotics from the November case and the defendant instead stipulated that the 206 unanalyzed packets contained heroin.[2] Nonetheless, in his affidavit in support of his motion for new trial in the November case, the ...


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